The last movie the Netflix gods delivered unto me was, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. I moved it to the top of our queue after catching Superman – The Movie on HD Movies, twice. I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t really review these movies super-critically. When the movie came out originally in 1978/79, we still lived in Bolivia and I must have been four years old when I saw it. I remember going to the movie theatre distinctly, its my earliest memory – I distinctly remember my dad buying the tickets, running into a friend of his in line, and then I remember him reading the subtitles for me when Pa’ Kent is lecturing a young Clark after showing off his super speed.
Please belive me when I tell you that Richard Donner’s cut of Superman II blows the orginal away. Its not just an "extended edition" type release with 10 more minutes of Superman flying around here and there. Donner had been filming Superman I and II, simultaneosly since it was written as a two movie story arc, and had shot a staggering amount of footage that ended up being archived away. This is a wholly different, more serious, and more coherent movie than the original. Gone are the campy jokes and one liners, the magic kiss of forgetfullness at the end, replaced with never before seen footage and a more serious treatment of the material, particularly the romance between Superman and Lois. It’s definitely a movie I recommend, both if you enjoy comic book movies or have fond memories of the original.
Why is this version so different and have to be made?
Following the release of Superman in December 1978, it was widely assumed that Donner would be re-called to complete the remainder of the sequel. However, a number of events led to Donner’s eventual replacement as director of the movie. Most importantly, the producers (Alexander and Ilya Salkind) announced that Marlon Brando’s completed scenes for Superman II would be excised from the movie in order to prevent them having to pay the actor the reported 11.75% of gross U.S. box-office takings he was now demanding for his performance in the sequel. Donner publicly lambasted this decision, announcing that he would make the film his way or not at all. The April 1978 issue of the sci-fi magazine Starburst quotes Donner as saying, "That means no games…They have to want me to do it. It has to be on my terms and I don’t mean financially. I mean control."